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heres_a_llama

Did SotW confuse your children by jumping between places?

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I went to my local homeschool store to pick up some supplies for 1st grade planning. While there, one of the staff members warned me that when she used SotW with her oldest that he was really confused by the jumping around from place to place of the text. When it came time to do it with her second and third children, she did all the Egyptian chapters, then all the Babylonian, then all the Greek, etc.

I think this goes against the idea of classical history - going in chronological so students can draw connections/themes between different groups of people in a logical order, etc - but I haven't used the series yet with my own children. I'm therefore interested in hearing how well your younger students were able to understand the distinct geographical areas covered in the text. Thanks!

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If you're using it with a first grader, I can see real merit to doing it by place rather than date.  I'm not sure early elementary students generally are likely to be making the connections between different groups of people and timelines.  My kids didn't really get confused, but it did sometimes feel a bit jumbled.  I think if you're using it with older kids, like fourth grade and up, then you want to do it as written and explicitly draw attention to what's going on where and when.  But with first graders, you're going for exposure and stories rather than dates.  

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Well, someone was quick to point out to me that SotW isn't strictly chronological! Look out!!

No, no confusion. They use transition phrases like, "Meanwhile, halfway around the world..." plus there are maps on the activity guide and we had a cheap-o globe. It was all good. Moving around the world helped cement the idea that there were all sorts of things happening simultaneously. The Dark Ages weren't dark for everybody!

Maybe that is specific to families, though. On top of the 4 year world history rotation I run a lighter 3 year American history cycle that moves at a different pace. I thought that this two strands might be confusing, but they repeatedly said "nope, we get it"

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We have always used it in conjunction with mapping activities & a globe. No confusion here at all. Pulling the civilizations out of context with one another defeats the purpose of chronological (or in the case of SoTW, semi-chronological) history - a huge part of the story depends on comparing & contrasting the groups over time.

Edited by Shoes+Ships+SealingWax
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I used the review cards at the end of the activity book to help my kids keep things straight.

Each time we came across a new civilization we would write its name on the top of a piece of paper and glue that review card at the top.  Then, the next time a chapter focused on that place, we would start by re-reading the old review card(s) and then we would glue the new review card right below it.  That gave us a pseudo time line of what was happening in each civilization.

We actually kept using the same papers as we started SOTW 2.  We just kept adding more review cards (and taping on additional papers as required).  Eventually we stopped when things just got too complicated as empires emerged, merged, fought, broke apart, etc.  For a while we were all hopelessly confused - but eventually it all made sense again.  We are currently on Chapter 27 of SOTW 4 and are both anticipating and grieving the end of the series.

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No, no confusion! If you stick with the cycle, you go back over history again, more deeply, and it all ties together! Having that understanding if how civilizations and inventions and religions and empires impacted each other actually made history much more relatable than learning everything separately as I did in school. Everything seemed independent of other events and I couldn't see the bigger picture. 

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No confusion. However, my goal at this point is only exposure, so I'm not concerned with whether or not they have a good grasp of the timeline and don't really check them on that. Also, our progress has been extremely slow, so not a lot of info in a short time. When we come to a chapter that switches civilizations, we always go to a wall map and locate where the last chapter was describing and find the new location. They each have a binder with pages onto which they've glued the review cards and done copywork, or I've written their narrations, below. The coloring pages and anything else we did are there too. These pages are in chapter order, and they both really enjoy looking back through the binders. They've not been confused when doing this either.

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No confusion, however if you have more than one child I would encourage you to think about when to start.  The recommended age range of Grade 1-5 is perfect for that first book (the others increase in difficulty and are recommended for grades 2-6, 3-7 and 4-8), and having completed the first three books, I'd now say it's better to be at the older end of the range than the younger end.

We began when my eldest was in K because there was an opportunity to do some shared activities with another family, and because I was super keen to start.  However, he's now in 3rd and isn't really ready for SOTW 4, so we're taking a break this year.  That book has a different format than the first three, and combined with the accompanying activity guide will gently teach your child to write an outline and then write from an outline over the course of a year - really well done, but a definite step above the Writing With Ease 3 level he's working at!

We have loved SOTW.  It worked well for us even though he was young, and he still remembers some of what he learned.  Next year I'll return with eagerness to SOTW 1 with a 2nd and 4th grader, and I expect the second grader to get much more out of it than his brother did as a kindergartner.   I know it's common to pace the history cycle according to the eldest child's age and let the youngers join in as they're able, but if I were doing it again, I'd wait for the second child to be in first grade before starting.  It would have been easier than teaching an extra subject to the eldest while the preschooler got up to mischief and while I was pregnant/nursing/toddler wrangling as well, and I no longer have a vague fear, as I think I once did, that he would somehow "miss out" or "get behind" if we didn't start everything at the earliest recommended age.

However you choose to run it for your family, I do hope you enjoy the journey!!

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Not at all. We simply looked at a map. I'd introduce a new chapter with something like "So we've been reading about what was going on over here in _______________. Let's see what was going on in a different part of the world. Look at the map. This is _________________."

We also used timelines on the wall to keep track of when, so we could see, for example, that Egyptian pyramid-building is really far to the left of Athens.

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The most important thing to remember about using SOTW is that it is an introduction to history.  They get what they get, and what they don't get, they will encounter again in their middle/high school history studies.

That said, we jumped ship on SOTW in the middle of volume 3 because I felt it was sacrificing coherence for chronology.  We moved to K12's History 4, which is organized more thematically, and it was like a breath of fresh air.

ETA: If I'm reading your signature correctly, it looks like your kids are 4 and 3?  Is this correct?  If so, I'd wait a few years to start history.

Edited by EKS
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Yes, it did/does confuse one of my kids, by which I mean he did not understand where or when anything was happening.

But! It doesn't matter, at all. You can't go into anything with first graders (or higher in many cases) expecting them to understand what's happening! 

Plus

21 hours ago, heres_a_llama said:

so students can draw connections/themes between different groups of people in a logical order, etc

 

Sure, but you can't really dictate WHICH connections children make.

But, yes, if you want your kids to fully grasp the dates and places and all that, you'll have to wait.

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No.   In fact, it's one of the things I liked about it.

SOTW builds review and comparison of cultures into their text.   So, when they switch over to a new place, they often have children look at how to get to one place from another on a map.  They will remind children of things "Remember how the Persions did this...well, another culture that did the same thing is..."   etc.   I like how it gives kids the idea that these nations were interacting with each other, not following one after another.

I did change the order a couple times though.   I moved chapter 21 right after Chapter 17, because I was also incorporating Bible stories chronologically, integrating them in as well as I could with history, and it was just a lot easier to do that with the chapters of Necuchadnezzar and Cyrus next to each other, so I didn't have to split up the life of Daniel. 

Of course, SOTW isn't completely chronological.   She compromises from strict chronology to put together some things by civilization or theme.  And usually I agree with her

But I did reorganize more chronologically for Rome.  Some of this was because of things I wanted to add in, which was easier if it was done chronologically (for instance, I added in some of the persecution of Christians under Diocletian, which doesn't make as much sense if Constantine is covered first). 

Chap 37 Jesus/Christianity
Added info on early church/New Testament stories from acts, and emperors Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius

Ch 39 A - B Nero, Christian Persecution...but saved Constantine for later)

Ch 40 (Celts, Boudicea)

Ch 38 (Jerusalem Destroyed)

Masada  (added)

Ch 40 B (Diocletian Divides Roman Empire) (286 AD)

Ch 39 C (Constantine)

Ch 41 (Barbarians Attack)

Ch 42 (Fall of Rome)


For Volume II, again, I changed order of chapters too a little.   I moved the parts about Japanese Knights later in the book, closer to when it happened chronology, just because we were busy earlier and I wanted to spend more time on that (cause my son was really interested in it), but also wanted to add a bunch of extra stuff about castles and knights, and it was just to crowded to do both together.

 

 

Edited by goldenecho

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It caused no confusion for us. Also, we have a globe sitting out and will point to where on the globe the lesson is each time. I think this really puts everything in to perspective.

Edited by Janeway

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Again, no confusion here. What I love about SOTW is that by hopping around and viewing history as a global story my kids picked up universal truths and common patterns. It’s given them wisdom for life as well as academic knowledge. 

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I thought it would confuse my children. Or, more exactly, not that they would be confused, but that a simpler approach with less jumping would be retained better by them. So I chose not to use SOTW. I didn't have anyone warn me of this, but made the determination myself.

I think this can be a problem for some children and not for others. There is no reason that you have to use SOTW. And there is no reason that you have to agree that what is a problem for someone else will be a problem for your children. If you read some of the book yourself and consider what kind of learners your children are, it may help you make the decision.

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Look at the old Pandia Press History Odyssey Level 1: Ancients and the current non History Quest titles. These are set up by civilization using SOTW. As for confusing-- nope, not a bit. 

Edited by Paradox5

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I just read this title outloud to my 9yo and she just looked at me like I was stupid and said "no!" So I guess not.

My elementary (and to a lesser extent, middle school) goal with history is simply exposure. So even if they are confused now, eventually it will meld together. Also, we listen to the audiobooks in the car with informal discussion and random library books, so we have gone through them a couple of times. That helps.

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